A plan to meet the skills demands of the AgriFood Tech sector in the East has been officially signed.
The AgriFood Tech Skills Plan has been developed by the industry sector in Norfolk and Suffolk, working alongside the New Anglia Skills Board and supported by SkillsReach. It aims to meet the region’s projected demand for more than 7,000 new, highly skilled workers in AgriFood Tech by 2024.
The New Anglia LEP area represents 11% of the UK’s agricultural output, more than any other LEP area. With the largest concentration of AgriFood research in Europe and innovative products and processes, the productivity of farm-based agriculture across Suffolk and Norfolk is twice that of the UK.
The sector skills plan prioritises the skills needed not only in agriculture and food production, but also the skills needed by the technology businesses which support the industry and the research base which drives innovation.
The plan’s top priority is to set up an AgriFood Tech Skills Group for the New Anglia area, putting industry at the heart of the process. This group will work to deliver a number of key actions:
- Co-ordinate sector careers promotion
- Develop new progression routes to Higher Education
- Develop a new Higher Education Centre to meet the shortfall in technical Higher Education
- Develop the supply of trainers to meet the needs of the sector
- Develop a Workforce Development Programme to equip the sector with the skills needed for growth.
Paul Winter, Chairman of New Anglia LEP’s Skills Board, said: “The importance of the AgriFood Tech sector, both to our local economy and the UK as a whole, cannot be underestimated. We have carried out the research to identify the skills needs of the sector in the future, and formulated a detailed plan to meet them. Now the hard work of implementing that plan begins.”
Doug Field, Chairman of New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership and Chairman of the LEP’s Food, Drink and Agriculture Board, said: “Our farming and food industry plays a key part in driving the success of our economy in the East. We are rightly proud of our leading position both nationally and globally. But we can’t rest on reputation alone. We will only succeed if we are competitive and, in achieving our goal, arguably nothing is as critical as the skills and expertise of our workforce. I‘m confident this plan can deliver that success.”